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Euterpe   


other resource for water."
And certes, in thus speaking of the Greeks the Egyptians say
nothing but what is true. But now let me tell the Egyptians how the
case stands with themselves. If, as I said before, the country below
Memphis, which is the land that is always rising, continues to
increase in height at the rate at which it has risen in times gone by,
how will it be possible for the inhabitants of that region to avoid
hunger, when they will certainly have no rain, and the river will
not be able to overflow their cornlands? At present, it must be
confessed, they obtain the fruits of the field with less trouble
than any other people in the world, the rest of the Egyptians
included, since they have no need to break up the ground with the
plough, nor to use the hoe, nor to do any of the work which the rest
of mankind find necessary if they are to get a crop; but the
husbandman waits till the river has of its own accord spread itself
over the fields and withdrawn again to its bed, and then sows his plot
of ground, and after sowing turns his swine into it- the swine tread
in the corn- after which he has only to await the harvest. The swine
serve him also to thrash the grain, which is then carried to the
garner.
If then we choose to adopt the views of the Ionians concerning
Egypt, we must come to the conclusion that the Egyptians had
formerly no country at all. For the Ionians say that nothing is really
Egypt but the Delta, which extends along shore from the Watch-tower of
Perseus, as it is called, to the Pelusiac Salt-Pans, a distance of
forty schoenes, and stretches inland as far as the city of Cercasorus,
where the Nile divides into the two streams which reach the sea at
Pelusium and Canobus respectively. The rest of what is accounted Egypt
belongs, they say, either to Arabia or Libya. But the Delta, as the
Egyptians affirm, and as I myself am persuaded, is formed of the
deposits of the river, and has only recently, if I may use the
expression, come to light. If, then, they had formerly no territory at
all, how came they to be so extravagant as to fancy themselves the
most ancient race in the world? Surely there was no need of their
making the experiment with the children to see what language they
would first speak. But in truth I do not believe that the Egyptians
came into being at the same time with the Delta, as the Ionians call
it; I think they have always existed ever since the human race
began; as the land went on increasing, part of the population came
down into the new country, part remained in their old settlements.
In ancient times the Thebais bore the name of Egypt, a district of
which the entire circumference is but 6120 furlongs.
If, then, my judgment on these matters be right, the Ionians are
mistaken in what they say of Egypt. If, on the contrary, it is they
who are right, then I undertake to show that neither the Ionians nor
any of the other Greeks know how to count. For they all say that the
earth is divided into three parts, Europe, Asia, and Libya, whereas
they ought to add a fourth part, the Delta of Egypt, since they do not
include it either in Asia or Libya. For is it not their theory that
the Nile separates Asia from Libya? As the Nile, therefore, splits
in two at the apex of the Delta, the Delta itself must be a separate
country, not contained in either Asia or Libya.
Here I take my leave of the opinions of the Ionians, and proceed
to deliver my own sentiments on these subjects. I consider Egypt to be
the whole country inhabited by the Egyptians, just as Cilicia is the
tract occupied by the Cilicians, and Assyria that possessed by the
Assyrians. And I regard the only proper boundary-line between Libya
and Asia to be that which is marked out by the Egyptian frontier.
For if we take the boundary-line commonly received by the Greeks, we
must regard Egypt as divided, along its whole length from
Elephantine and the Cataracts to Cercasorus, into two parts, each
belonging to a different portion of the world, one to Asia, the
other to Libya; since the Nile divides Egypt in two from the Cataracts
to the sea, running as far as the city of Cercasorus in a single

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